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An illegal immigrant in India is a person residing in the country without official permission as prescribed by relevant Indian law. Those who are explicitly granted refugee status do not fall under this category.

The India Census of 2001 gives information about migrants, but not exclusively illegal immigrants. As per the 2001 Census, Bangladeshis form the largest group of migrants in India followed by Pakistanis.[1][2]

Contents

DemographicsEdit

Illegal immigrationEdit

An estimation made in the year 2000 placed the total number of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in India at 1.5 crores, with around 3 lakh entering every year. The rule of thumb for such illegal immigrants is that for each illegal person caught four get through. While many immigrants have settled in the border areas, some have moved on, even to faraway places such as Mumbai and Delhi.[3] During the UPA government, Sriprakash Jaiswal, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, had made a statement in Parliament on 14 July 2004, that there were 12 million illegal Bangladeshi infiltrators living in India, and West Bengal topped the list with 5.7 million Bangladeshis. More recently, Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State for Home Affairs in the NDA government has put the figure at around 24 million.[4] Critics point out that the Bengali politicians, particularly those from the ruling Trinamool Congress and the CPI (M), believe that a soft approach to the problem helps them to win Muslim votes.[5]

According to the 2001 census, there are 3,084,826 people in India who came from Bangladesh[1] No reliable numbers on illegal immigrants are currently available. Extrapolating the census data for the state of Assam alone gives a figure of 2 million.[6][7] Figures as high as 20 million are also reported in the government and media.[8][9] Samir Guha Roy of the Indian Statistical Institute called these estimates "motivated exaggerated". After examining the population growth and demographic statistics, Roy instead states that while a vast majority are illegal immigrants, significant numbers of internal migration is sometimes falsely thought to be immigrants. An analysis of the numbers by Roy revealed that on average around 91000 Bangladeshis illegally crossed over to India every year during the years 1981-1991[10]

The trip to India from Bangladesh is one of the cheapest in the world, with a trip costing around Rs.2000 (around $30 US), which includes the fee for the "Tour Operator". As Bangladeshi are culturally similar to the Bengali people in India, they can pass off as Indian citizens and settle down in any part of India to establish a far better future than they could in Bangladesh,[11] for a very small price. This false identity can be bolstered with false documentation available for as little as Rs.200 ($3 US) can even make them part of the vote bank.[10]

The Bangladesh Liberation War and continued political and economic turmoil in Bangladesh in the following decades forced some Bangladeshis to seek refuge in India. During the Bangladesh Liberation War, at least 10 million Bangladeshis crossed into India illegally to seek refuge from widespread rape and genocide.[11] Most of them migrated to the border states, particularly West Bengal and Assam.[7] Due to persecution during the genocide, illegal migrants have been defined in Assam Accord as those who infiltrated illegally after 24 December 1971.[7] This issue became more visible after the 1991 census when patterns of the abnormally high growth rate of Muslims were observed in the border states Assam and West Bengal. In 1991 census Muslim population growth rates in these states were found to be much higher than the growth rates of the local Hindu population even after adjusting for the usual higher growth rate of Muslims observed throughout the country.[6][7][12][citation needed] See the following tables for detail (computation here).[6][7][12][13][14][15][16][17]

West Bengal[16] % growth of Hindus % growth of Muslims
1961-1971 25.75% 29.76%
1971-1981 21.37% 29.55%
1981-1991 21.09% 36.89%
1991-2001 14.23% 25.91%
1991-2011[17] 10.81% 21.81%
Assam[16] % growth of Hindus % growth of Muslims
1961-1971 34.49% 29.89%
1971-1991 41.89% 77.42%
1991-2001 14.95% 29.30%
2001-2011[17] 10.89% 29.59%
All India[16] % growth of Hindus % growth of Muslims
1961-1971 23.67% 30.84%
1971-1981 21.29% 22.95%
1981-1991 25.08% 34.54%
1991-2001 20.35% 36.02%
2001-2011[17] 16.76% 24.65%

Burmese immigrantsEdit

There are estimated 50,000-100,000 Burmese Chin immigrants residing in India, mostly in the Indian state of Mizoram and a small number is found in Delhi.[18][19][20]

Pakistani immigrantsEdit

India has thousands of people from Pakistan living illegally; according to one figure from 2009, it was above 7,700.[21]

Afghanistan immigrantsEdit

By 2009, India had over 13,000 illegal immigrants from Afghanistan.[21]

Political concerns over Bangladeshi illegal immigrantsEdit

 
ABVP addressing about Bangladeshi illegal immigrants

TripuraEdit

Tripura demographics have been altered due to the influx of illegal Bangladeshi Bengalis refugees and immigrants alike. The influx started from the 70s after the Liberation of Bangladesh 1971. The native Tiprasa with only about 30% of the total population. This can be seen as the worst of the influx in recent history. The politics and socio-economic conditions have greatly affected by it. Today as the market has been under the illegal Bangladeshis, it is not surprising of the poor economic condition of the Tiprasa(Tripuri) people.

AssamEdit

In Assam, the Assam Movement against illegal immigrants started as early as 1979 and ended in 1985, led by All Assam Students Union. During this period of six long years of the historic movement as reported 855(later on 860 as submitted by AASU) nos of peoples sacrificed their lives in the hope of an "Infiltration Free Assam".[22][23] They demanded was to put a stop on the influx of immigrants and deportation of those who have already settled.[7] It gradually took violent form and ethnic violence started between Assamese and Bengalis, mostly Muslims. It eventually led to the infamous Nellie massacre in 1983 due to a controversy over the 1983 election.[24] In 1985 the Indian Government signed the Assam Accord with the leaders of the agitation to stop the issue.[7][25] As per the accord, India started building a fence along the Assam-Bangladesh border which is now almost complete.[26] However, Assam also has a large number of genuine Indian Muslims. It is difficult to distinguish between illegal Bangladeshis and local Bengali speakers.[27] In some cases, genuine Indian citizens have been discriminated[7][28] Allegations exist that nationalist parties such as the Bharatiya Janata Party as well as the Indian National Congress have discriminated against Bengali-speaking Muslims.[29] On the other hand, in some places reports of Bangladeshis being able to secure Indian ration and voter identity cards have come out.[30][31]

After the 1991 census, the changing demographic patterns in border districts became more visible.[6][7] It created anxiety and tension in India throughout the nineties. Both conservatives,[32] as well as moderates,[6] expressed concern on this issue. The first BJP government came into power in 1998 and subsequently ordered the construction of the Indo-Bangladesh barrier to stop migrants and illegal trade along the border. It was planned to enhance the already existing barrier in Assam and to encircle West Bengal, Tripura and Mizoram as well.[33][34][35]

West BengalEdit

The other Indian state affected by this problem, West Bengal, remained mostly calm during this period. However Indian newspapers reported that "the state government has reported that illegal Bangladeshi migrants have trickled into parts of rural Bengal, including Nandigram,[36] over the years, and settled down as sharecroppers with the help of local Left leaders. Though a majority of these immigrants became tillers, they lacked documents to prove the ownership of land.[36]

The Government of Bangladesh has denied India's claims on illegal immigration.[37][38]

After the 2001 census, the anxiety somewhat reduced when the growth rates were found to have returned to near-normal levels, particularly in West Bengal, thus negating the fear that there was an unabated influx of migrants.[39][40] Although some concern remains.

The proportion of Muslims in West Bengal has grown from 19.85% in 1951 to 27.01% in 2011. That, of course, does not have any reflection on immigration, it is generally attributed to a higher growth rate amongst the Muslims.[41] However, when one has a closer look at the CD Blocks along the India-Bangladesh border questions come up. The exceedingly high decadal population growth rate in certain CD Blocks, such as in Basirhat subdivision in North 24 Pargaganas district and CD Blocks along with the riverine international border in Murshidabad district does raise concerns.

The decadal growth rate of the population for West Bengal in 2001-11 was 13.93%.[42] The decadal growth of population in Basirhat I CD Block in 2001-2011 was 16.16%.[43] The decadal growth of population in Basirhat I CD Block in 1991-2001 was 20.94%.[44] The decadal growth of population in Hasnabad CD Block in 2001-2011 was 14.50%.[45] The decadal growth of the population in Hasnabad CD Block in 1991-2001 was 17.47%.[46] The decadal growth rate of population in neighboring Satkhira District in Bangladesh was 6.50% for the decade 2001-2011, down from 16.75% in the decade 1991-2001 and 17.90% in the decade 1981-1991.[47]

The decadal growth rates, for the decade 2001-2011, were still higher in the border areas of Murshidabad district. In Raghunathganj II CD Block it was 37.82%, the highest amongst all the CD Blocks in Murshidabad district, 34.09% in Samserganj CD Block, 30.82 in Suti II CD Block, 29.02% in Suti I CD Block, 23.62% in Lalgola CD Block, 22.24% In Bhagawangola II CD Block and 21.65% in Bhagawangola I CD Block.[48] The decadal growth rate of population in Chapai Nawabganj District was 15.59% for the decade 2001-2011, down from 21.67% in the decade 1991-2001.[49] The decadal growth rate of the population in the Rajshahi District was 13.48% for the decade 2001-2011, down from 21.19% in the decade 1991-2001. Both the districts are across the Ganges, in Bangladesh. [50]

In both, the above cases the comparisons are between Bengali-speaking Muslim-majority areas, and hence the argument of higher growth rate amongst Muslims does not hold good. There are also other similar examples.

MizoramEdit

Bangladeshi Buddhist Chakma immigrants[51] from Bangladesh have settled in the southern part of Mizoram because they were [52]displaced by the construction of the Kaptai Dam on the Karnaphuli River in 1962, the dam flooded 655 square kilometers and displaced over 100,000 people most of them Chakma people. As there was no rehabilitation and compensation, they fled from Bangladesh to India[53]. The Chakma people also resisted inclusion into Bangladesh during Bangladeshi Independence in 1971 through armed struggled led by Shanti Bahini because they were ethnically, culturally and religiously distinct, this violent confrontation between Shanti Bahini and Bangladeshi Army led to Chakma fleeing Bangladesh for India[54]

KeralaEdit

Although Kerala is at a large distance from Bangladesh(~2500 km), Bangladeshi illegal migrants have been moving to Kerala owing to the high wages for unskilled and semi-skilled laborers, and also the presence of sizeable Muslim population in the state. From Bangladesh and Myanmar, they reach Kolkata. The next stop is Hyderabad. The final stopover, Kochi. And their destination range from Australia, Canada to European countries like Serbia. Following the Kerala Police unearthing the international footprint of this operation, both the Intelligence Bureau and National Investigation Agency (NIA) have started probing. Shockingly, Kochi has emerged the critical lay-over for dozens of Bangladeshis and Rohingyas as they plot their illegal migration to Australia, Canada and a few European countries. The racket stops short of being a case of human trafficking as these illegal migrants are fully equipped with all valid Indian documents by the time they reach their destinations The Kerala police are reportedly finding it difficult to check the influx of these Bangladeshi illegal migrants.[55] Kerala State Intelligence officials said they found that a large section of Migrant laborers in Kerala claiming to be from West Bengal or even Assam were actually from Bangladesh.[56] Anti-national activities have been reported; the latest in which in August 2016, a native of West Bengal was arrested for insulting the national flag and he was later found to be an illegal immigrant from Bangladesh. There is said to be major racket at the borders of West Bengal and Assam with Bangladesh which provides illegal migrants with identity cards.[57]

TelanganaEdit

Hyderabad with a considerable presence of the Muslim population in South India has become an ideal destination for many Rohingyas and Bangladeshi immigrants. The vote bank politics has to lead to such a situation that there is a growing population of immigrants every year who are employed as daily wage workers. These immigrants easily manage to get voter ID cards and Aadhar cards as well. Areas near the old city like Balapur, Chandrayangutta, Shalibanda, and Barkas in the old city of Hyderabad a have huge population of immigrants.

Higher judiciary's concerns over Bangladeshi illegal immigrantsEdit

In 2005, a Supreme Court bench ruled Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act (IMDT) as unconstitutional while,[58] with reference to the Sinha Report,[59] maintained that the impact of the "aggression" represented by large-scale illegal migration from Bangladesh had made the life of the people of Assam especially one of seven sisters which is Tripura the land of Tiprasa "wholly insecure and the panic generated thereby had created fear psychosis" in other north-eastern States.[58] In August 2008, the Delhi High Court dismissed a petition by a Bangladeshi national against her deportation. The High Court ruled that the illegal Bangladeshi immigrants "pose a danger to India's internal security".[60]

Social concernsEdit

Apart from immigrants, a large number smugglers regularly cross the porous border along West Bengal into India.[61] They mainly engage in smuggling goods and livestock from India into the Bangladesh to avoid high tariff imposed on some Indian goods by Bangladesh government.[61] Bangladeshi women and girls are also trafficked to India.[62] The Centre for Women and Children Studies estimated in 1998 that 27,000 Bangladeshis have been forced into prostitution in India.[63][64] According to the CEDAW report, 10% of all prostitutes in India and 27% of prostitutes in Kolkata are from Bangladesh.[65]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit